There’s nothing that can sum up the highs and lows of a comedy career quite like gigging to just under 500 students, storming it, and then returning full of adrenaline to the sort of bleak Travelodge hell that I’m currently sitting in. The kind of room where they have discarded all attempt at art apart from an oversized version of the Dulux chart to make you realise there are other colours than grey in the world. The room has been designed to cater for the depressed. There is a bottle opener on the side of the desk, knowing full well the only way you’ll survive a night in this room without contemplating your own sorry existence is by drinking through it. Then, should you wish to try and throw yourself into the wasteland quarry that the picturesque scene outside provides, the window is ‘restricted’ for your own health and safety. Room with a view. A view to a kill. Kill yourself. Joy. I’m sitting watching children’s TV in an attempt to see something where people at least smile. The irony of children’s TV showing in this place is that I’m sure no one has or ever will bring children here. In fact, I’m fairly sure most people that stay here aren’t allowed near their kids anymore if they have any or, in fact, aren’t allowed near any kids ever. It is a building designed by someone who wanted to replicate the idea of you never leaving a 9 to 5, even when you’re asleep. Travel-odge. Or Trave-lodge. Not Travel-lodge. In no way does it want you to think its a both somewhere for weary travelers, or a lodge to stay. It can only be one or the other. What is an odge? I assume exactly this. Its the sort of noise you might make when trying to heave yourself through the restricted window.
Their new mascot appears to be a small bear who keeps popping up around the building saying slogans like ‘ You Do Not Disturb This Room. Understand?’ The fact he is wearing a lab coat and then follows the initial instruction with ‘understand’, makes him appear like some sort of terrifying East End gangster hit bear. The sort of bear that gets called into dispose of a body by throwing it into a bath of acid. Or to some pigs. Or to some pigs on acid. In no way at any point has this bear made me feel more comfortable. Saying all this, it is clean, and the bed and shower are good, so I can’t really complain. I have, over the years, stayed in far worse places for the sake of comedy. The worst was possibly the B&B in Loughborough where the doors didn’t have locks and a creepy old lady wandered the corridors at night with a torch tapping the walls. I never been so afraid to sleep in my life.
The gig was brilliant last night. I’ve realised that now, at my age, students gigs are becoming harder and harder to do. I am constantly at odds with looking at these pretty young people, all excited about their lives and futures and wanting to entertain them, and yet being so hugely spiteful of their youth and naivety that I can’t help but want to crush their dreams by saying how pointless all studying in this world of international deficit and unemployment is and they should all learn trade skills. I’m not sure how this has happened. One very attractive girl last night engaged me in conversation about how she had taken film studies because a) she wanted to go to uni but didn’t know what to do and b) because she wants to make porn movies at some point. This was then followed by her telling Tony Lee (the hypnotist I was supporting) that she will get on stage and do anything except ‘sex in chairs’. Several years ago, I may have seen this as an exciting if hugely shallow invitation of some sort. Now, I frowned upon her choice of life decision, spent several minutes being horribly sarcastic and then thought about seeking shelter in the chair department of Ikea, before hiding backstage and reading some of my book. This and returning to the Travel-odge slightly drunk and singing ‘Travelodge’ to the tune of David Grey’s Babylon in the empty corridors to myself, honestly make me wonder what’s happened to me.
Today is driving to Camarthen in Wales. Quite a trek, but a pretty drive some of the way. Not only that, but thanks to a chat with my friend Katy the other day, I have a renewed love for all the old Ninja Tune records I haven’t listened to in ages. The car is stacked with CDs of oddly trippy ambient experimental breakbeat madness for the duration of my cruising. I used to be, and would like to think that despite losing touch with some it, such a big Ninja Tune fan. Its their 20th anniversary this year and discovering that made me slightly sad to find my 10th year anniversary CD box set, and remember how seven years ago I spent a month and half being a runner for them, getting paid only in CDs and free gigs. I spent several nights at the excellent Xen shows and witnessed Kid Koala and Cinematic Orchestra among many others, play amazing sets. Ninja Tune records were introduced to me by my friend Luke in my second year of University, along with DJ Shadow and various other Trip Hop and breakbeat bands. Hearing a mix of music blends I’d never heard and some stuff, that to be honest like Funki Porcini, was almost inaudible and we only persevered thinking we were left field and cool, made me feel like I had been let in on a world that no one else knew about. The downside of this of course was that when Luke went to live in America, and my other few friends who were into it, Louis and Andrea, all moved away or got their own busy lives, I’ve been left with no one to go see any of this again, and instead I’m reduced to singing David Grey parodies in the 21st Century Bleak House. Still, speaking to Katy the other day, who is all young, but still knows about Ninja Tunes – a total revelation – I have decided to get back into it. Even if I go by myself. And hide in the dark at the back. Not unlike a ninja, ironically. A shit ninja. A really really shit old ninja.
‘Heeey heeeeeeeeeeeeey, Travvveeeelllll-ooooodddgeeeee…….’